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#3 PackWrestle: New Rankings & ACC Seed Projections

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2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship Photo by Justin K. Aller/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

New Rankings

The regular season is over. The Pack (15-0, 5-0) went undefeated for the first time in program history, and claimed their third ACC Dual Championship in a row in the process. This was good for a #3 ranking in the final NWCA dual poll, behind #1 Iowa and #2 Penn State.

New weight class rankings have also dropped from FloWrestling. Not much change for our guys from last week, but see where they checked-in below:

  • 125: Camacho #15 (last week: 15)
  • 133: Trombley #23 (23)
  • 141: T. Wilson #13 (13)
  • 157: H. Hidlay #2 (2)
  • 165: T. Bullard #8 (8)
  • 174: D. Bullard #15 (16)
  • 184: T. Hidlay #3 (3)
  • 285: D. Wilson #24 (24)

In addition to the new weekly rankings from media outlets such as Flo, the less frequent but more important Coaches Rankings and RPI have dropped this week as well. These are golden because they directly determine qualifications and seeding for the NCAA tournament in Minneapolis. See where our guys ranked below:

  • 125: Camacho #18 / #8 (Coaches Ranking / RPI)
  • 133: Trombley #29 / #27
  • 141: T. Wilson #12 / #8
  • 149: Leitten #33 / #22
  • 157: H. Hidlay #2 / #4
  • 165: T. Bullard #10 / #8
  • 174: D. Bullard #12 / #7
  • 184: T. Hidlay #3 / #10
  • 285: D. Wilson #25 / #21

Now, I’m not going to pretend to know the formula for RPI. Pretty much nobody knows it, which is an issue and talking point in the wrestling community. Many outlets have tried to replicate it, but essentially it is some weighted combination of a wrestler’s record, their opponents’ records, and their opponents’ opponents’ records. What can’t be disputed is its importance.

NCAA Allocations

There are two ways a wrestler can qualify for the NCAA tournament. They can earn an automatic bid through their conference tournament, and if they fail to do so, they can earn an at-large (wildcard) bid from a selection committee.

At the end of the regular season, the NCAA uses three criteria to determine the number of automatic qualifier spots allocated to each conference. These three criteria are the Coaches Ranking, the RPI, and winning percentage. If you meet the threshold (top-30 for Coaches Ranking & RPI, and .700 winning percentage against D1 opposition) for two of the three criteria, then you will earn an allocation for your conference at your weight. So for example, the ACC had three wrestlers at the 125-pound weight class meet at least two of the three above criteria. Therefore, they have earned the conference 3 NCAA auto-bids. That means at the ACC tournament next weekend, the first-, second-, and third-place wrestlers at 125 will punch their tickets to NCAAs. The rest will have to hope their resume is good enough for an at-large bid from a selection committee. Each weight will have 33 wrestlers in Minneapolis, so there will be between 4-6 at-large bids awarded for each weight.

The NCAA released each conference’s earned allocations and the ACC was awarded 35.

The weight-by-weight breakdown is below:

  • 125: 3
  • 133: 5
  • 141: 3
  • 149: 2
  • 157: 5
  • 165: 4
  • 174: 4
  • 184: 3
  • 197: 1
  • 285: 5

As you can see, 133, 157, and heavyweight were strong in the ACC this season. They each qualified five of the six wrestlers in the conference. Those guys should rest easy knowing a single win in Pittsburgh will get them a bid.

ACC Tournament Seed Projections

The release of the allocations is huge because it allows you to project how many qualifiers your favorite school could theoretically get based on where you expect their guys to place at their conference tournament. However, those projections can’t be made without having an idea of what the brackets will look like.

I will attempt to paint that picture for you all here. But be warned, seeding is a finicky business and there’s no real criteria out there to help me. As a general rule of thumb though, I will most heavily weight records in ACC duals. Usually the tiebreaker is national rank, but more subjective criteria also sneak their way into this formula sometimes. For example, Thomas Bullard and UNC’s Kennedy Monday are both undefeated in ACC duals this season. Bullard has the edge in national ranking, Coaches Ranking, and RPI. However, Monday showed up to the dual and was ready to wrestle while Bullard did not. Should Bullard be punished for missing the dual? Some people think so.

Here are expected starters for each school, and their records in the ACC duals they appeared in.

125

  1. Jack Mueller, UVA
  2. Jakob Camacho, NC State
  3. Joey Melendez, UNC
  4. Joey Prata, VT
  5. Louis Newell, Pitt

133

  1. Micky Phillippi, Pitt
  2. Jaime Hernandez, UNC
  3. Jarrett Trombley, NC State
  4. Louie Hayes, UVA
  5. Collin Gerardi, VT
  6. Harrison Campbell, Duke

141

  1. Tariq Wilson, NC State
  2. Zachary Sherman, UNC
  3. Mitch Moore, VT
  4. Cole Matthews, Pitt
  5. Brian Courtney, UVA
  6. Bryson Neace, Duke

149

  1. Austin O’Connor, UNC
  2. Bryce Andonian, VT
  3. AJ Leitten, NC State
  4. Denton Spencer, UVA
  5. Luke Kemerer, Pitt
  6. Wade Unger, Duke

157

  1. Hayden Hidlay, NC State
  2. AC Headlee, UNC
  3. Taleb Rahmani, Pitt
  4. BC LaPrade, VT
  5. Justin McCoy, UVA
  6. Eric Carter, Duke

165

  1. Thomas Bullard, NC State
  2. Kennedy Monday, UNC
  3. Benjamin Anderson, Duke
  4. David McFadden, VT
  5. Jake Wentzel, Pitt
  6. Cam Coy, UVA

174

  1. Gregg Harvey, Pitt
  2. Daniel Bullard, NC State
  3. Mason Eaglin, Duke
  4. Clay Lautt, UNC
  5. Cody Hughes, VT
  6. Victor Marcelli, UVA

184

  1. Hunter Bolen, VT
  2. Trent Hidlay, NC State
  3. Nino Bonaccorsi, Pitt
  4. Michael Battista, UVA
  5. Joey Mazzara, UNC
  6. Kai Blake, Duke

197

  1. Jay Aiello, UVA
  2. Kellan Stout, Pitt
  3. Brandon Whitman, UNC
  4. Stanley Smeltzer, VT
  5. Vincent Baker, Duke
  6. Tyrie Houghton, NC State

285

  1. Demetrius Thomas, Pitt
  2. Deonte Wilson, NC State
  3. John Borst, VT
  4. Andrew Gunning, UNC
  5. Quinn Miller, UVA
  6. Jonah Niesenbaum, Duke

*bold indicates automatic qualifiers if placements follow seeding

165 is a complete debacle - the seeds just seem plain wrong. Two top-15 guys in the country (McFadden & Wentzel) seeded behind Benjamin Anderson, who has a losing record overall on the season. But, his conference record is stronger due to not facing most of the starters in ACC competition. We’ll see how strictly the conference record is adhered to, and how much common sense factors into seeding.

We should be getting brackets sometime next week, at which point we can really get into matchups and predictions. Can’t wait!